Zynga goes for a “must have mobile” game development approach

Zynga is changing its game development approach to incorporate a mobile component at the concept stage, CEO Mark Pincus announced during the company’s third quarter earnings call.

Just yesterday, Zynga launched a dramatic “cost reduction program” that eliminated 150 jobs, shut down Zynga Boston and includes the sunsetting of 13 older games. This program is designed to save Zynga up to $80 million annually and also includes “more stringent” resource management and allocation for the development of new games. Part of those resources will go to adding a mobile component to all new games as they are developed and eventually launched. This means that Zynga’s game teams will now probably merge its mobile and web developers early on in the development cycle.

This “must have mobile” approach resembles Activision, Ubisoft and EA’s approach to handheld consoles in the last decade — where every new game launched to home console also had to have a handheld version, usually developed by a more junior team or an external development team. The danger here is that these games feel like afterthoughts and usually don’t tie in well with the “core” game on console. While Zynga may not experience this challenge with its casual or arcade games (which tend to translate to mobile), it could present challenges for more in-depth sim games like CityVille and for the upcoming midcore game from A Bit Lucky.

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